Two young hockey talents from Merritt have officially committed to the Merritt Centennials for the upcoming season.

This year, the Cents have found new hometown heroes in Luke Sowpal and Cooper Harrington as they lace up their skates for their hometown team in the 2024- 25 season.

The left-handed forward Cooper Harrington is described by Centennials’ head coach Wes McLeod as a player who is “not afraid to take a run at the biggest player on the opposing team.”

“He is relentless in hunting pucks and creating turnovers and will be a pest for opposing teams to deal with,” the coach said. “Combining his work ethic with his skill set, we feel Cooper has tremendous upside to turn into a force to be wrecking with the KIJHL.”

The born and raised Merrittonian describes it as a dream come true to be playing for the Merritt Centennials.

“It’s unbelievable, I’m still in shock to be honest. I grew up dreaming of playing for them, so getting the chance this year to put on a jersey and play for this community is gonna be unreal,” Harrington said.

He describes himself as an energetic player and someone who is committed to overtop himself. “Being a 16 year old in this league, I know I might not play a whole bunch, but I guarantee I’ll make the best of every chance I can get,” Harrington added.

During the 2023-24 season, Harrington was committed to the Thompson Blazers U17 AAA. In his time with the Blazers, Harrington played 32 games during the regular season, scored nine goals and had nine assists. He also played seven playoff games with the Blazers, managing to assist four goals.

Cooper Harrington signing his contract with the Merritt Centennials. Photo/Brad Anstey/Merritt Centennials

Luke Sowpal, a 17 year-old right-handed forward, has an equally compelling story.

Centennials’ head coach McLeod describes the right-handed forward as a “shifty forward with a great release and ability to score from anywhere on the ice.”

“Luke is strong on his skates, can protect pucks and make plays under pressure,” the coach added. “We like his upside as a player and his ability to play anywhere in our lineup. As a local player, Luke is sure to be a fan favourite.”

But in his own words, Sowpal describes himself as a passionate player.

“The way that I play is I like to leave it all on the ice and just give it my all and whatever it takes to win, whatever the coach wants me to do, I’ll do,” he added.

Like Harrington, his hockey journey started when he was still very young. Sowpal said that he has always been into hockey and it was a big part of his family.

“I’ve always been into sports and hockey specifically. Just a few years ago, I started playing away from home, playing at a higher level,” he added.

During last season, Sowpal played for the Cold Lake Aeros in the Canadian-American Junior Hockey League. In his time with the Aeros, Sowpal showcased impressive numbers, having played 34 games, scored 23 goals and assisted 36 goals.

He shares some of his expectations for the upcoming season with the Centennials.

“I’m extremely excited to play in front of the fans in Merritt and my family,” he said. “They can expect a hard game physically and a lot of energy.”

“I’m gonna really try to top my game, so I can move on forward … the goal this year is just to get better and work on those little things that I need to work on.”

Luke Sowpal signing his contract with the Merritt Centennials. Photo/Brad Anstey/Merritt Centennials

As the team still builds its roster for the upcoming season, the excitement is palpable as the Cents’ games will now feature two of Merritt’s own.